Which edition of Ulysses?

A binder I know once told me that he has always wanted to bind James Joyce’s Ulysses, but didn’t know which edition or editions were suitable or affordable. I think I said I’d send him a list of editions. I’m almost positive I didn’t.

To make up for failing to fulfill a promise, I present this handy guide to editions of Ulysses:

  • Paris: Shakespeare and Co, 1922. First edition. 1000 copies in three limitations (all bound in Aegean blue wraps):
    • 100 were printed on Dutch handmade paper, numbered, and signed by Joyce
    • 150 large paper copies numbered 101- 250, printed on Vergé d’Arches, not signed
    • 750 were numbered 251-1000 and printed on a lesser grade of handmade paper, not signed
  • London: Egoist Press, 1922. Purportedly first edition printed in England (except that it was actually printed in Dijon for UK distribution). Pirated edition. 2000 copies.
  • New York: Roth, 1929. Except that it says no such thing on the title page. Pirated edition, unauthorized by Joyce. 2-3000 copies.
  • Hamburg/Paris/Bologna: The Odyssey Press, 1932. First hardcover edition. Printed on India paper.
  • New York: Random House, 1934
  • New York: Limited Editions Club, 1935. Illustrated by Henri Matisse. 1500 copies:
    • 250 signed by both Matisse and Joyce
    • remaining 1250 signed only by Matisse
  • London: John Lane, The Bodley Head, 1936. First authorized edition printed in England, designed by Eric Gill. 1000 copies in two limitations:
    • 100 copies on mould-made paper and bound in vellum, signed by Joyce
    • 900 copies on japon vellum and bound in green buckram, not signed

So here’s the problem: all of these editions are rare and expensive. I’d go with Random House without dust jacket. That one is probably the easiest to find and least expensive.

Forget what I said about follow-the-flag. Joyce is an exception. He was Irish, but spent most of his time in Paris and Trieste.

Happy hunting!

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4 thoughts on “Which edition of Ulysses?

  1. img circ

    One correction – the 1922 Egoist Press edition is not “pirated” – it was fully authorised by Joyce. Harriet Shaw Weaver, founder of Egoist Press, was a long term supporter of Joyce – serialising Ulysses in ‘The Egoist’ in 1919. It is somewhat unique as it is both considered the 2nd French printing of the 1st edition and the 1st UK edition.

    The Egoist Press edition is also considered important as it formally legitimised the book through library holdings, and thus asserted it’s UK copyright, at a time when it had already been banned in the country.

    Speaking of piracy – the editors preparing the 1934 Random House edition (recommended here) inadvertently used the 1929 Roth Piracy as the source text and ended up reproducing many of the errors that had been introduced by the pirates through their careless typesetting. These errors are why many consider it not a desirable edition and either choose earlier corrected offerings (i.e. Odyssey Press) or the 1937 The Bodley Head trade edition.

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  2. That’s true. However, they are not collectible in the same sense that I mean. They are inexpensive not only because they are lacking the wraps, but also collectors don’t really want a 6th printing of the first edition. It’s not considered an important edition.

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